Brandon Phillips (forearm) expected to return Friday

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Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips hasn’t appeared in a game since getting hit on the left forearm by a pitch on Saturday evening.

But his return is apparently imminent.

According to C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer, both Phillips himself and Reds manager Dusty Baker insisted earlier this evening that Phillips will be back in Cincinnati’s starting lineup on Friday night in St. Louis for the start of an important three-game series against the division-rival Cardinals.

Phillips boasts a .296/.347/.481 batting line, nine homers and 45 RBI in 54 games this season. The Reds entered play Wednesday with a 36-23 record, trailing the Cardinals by 2 1/2 games in the NL Central.

Jack Hannahan is starting at second base in Cincy’s series finale tonight against the Rockies.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.